Thursday, June 28, 2012

Phobia- Feverish Convulsions (1991)

Grutle Kjellson and Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved are but yet two more black metal legends that started out their careers playing death metal. Their original band, Phobia played a dark, dingy brand of doom-death metal, similar in style to very early My Dying Bride. The band also contained drummer Hein Frode Hansen, who would go on to have success with the gothic doom metal band Theatre of Tragedy. The only relic from Phobia is the demo Feverish Convulsions. Though brief—three songs totaling fifteen minutes—it is a fairly effective piece of doom-death. (All the more amazing when you consider the age of the musicians. Ivar was merely 14 years old at the time of the recording!) 

The mix is not ideal, but it is adequate. The guitars are a little far back in the mix and don’t have as strong of a punch as they should. Grutle’s deep, burly death growl is more forward in the mix, but is also somewhat muddled. Only the keys which fade in and out of the compositions possess much clarity. Still, everything is audible and it is not a struggle to make out what is going on. 

The riffs are of two kinds: there are slower, murky riffs and tight, punching tremolo passages. The band does a good job of shifting between ominous stretches of doom and more out and out attacking portions. The slower passages have good horror movie style riffs that deviously creep toward the listener like a hungry snake. The songwriting is unpredictable, with each song containing a lot of transitions and shifts in tempo, mood and intensity. Consequently, these actually have some staying power and reward multiple listens.

Feverish Convulsions is a solid piece of doom-death that demonstrates that Grutle and Ivar had some solid songwriting skills even at a young age. Had Phobia continued, they could have been an original addition to the doom-death movement of the early 90s. However, Grutle, Ivar and Hein all went on to accomplish bigger and better things in other groups. Still, if compared to first demos of other black metal legends, Feverish Convulsions is a respectable effort.

Overall: 7/10

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